By Corey Friedman – firstname.lastname@example.org
ROCKINGHAM — In her 20-year tenure, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall said she’s worked to streamline the business incorporation process and make her office a nationwide leader in stemming the flow of counterfeit goods.
Marshall visited the Richmond County Judicial Center on Friday during her U.S. 74 commute between campaign stops in Columbus and Union counties. In a meeting with Clerk of Superior Court Vickie Daniel, she rattled off a record of accomplishments and stressed the need for continuity.
“The secretary of state’s office is in very good shape,” Marshall said. “I certainly hope people are not seeing a reason to make a change.”
A Democrat who has held office since 1996, Marshall faces a Nov. 8 challenge from Republican nominee Michael LaPaglia, an entrepreneur who describes himself as a “limited government free-enterprise advocate.”
Marshall said she’s a champion of both business and consumers, a leader who’s brought high-tech upgrades to state filings and worked to fight fraud, scams and trademark infringement.
“We have the best reputation in the country — we are the only state doing anything to stop counterfeiting,” she said.
Marshall employs state law enforcement officers who investigate the manufacture, import and sale of knock-off designer goods. Counterfeit wares shortchange companies that have invested millions to build their brands, she said, the money funds organized crime and consumers are left with cheap imitators of designer shoes, clothing and accessories.
“It absolutely is not harmless,” she said, “because what’s behind this is traffickers in humans and drugs. You’re supporting bad guys, maybe not necessarily the guy on the streetcorner or at the flea market, but the people profiting.”
Incorporated companies are required to register with the N.C. Office of the Secretary of State and provide articles of incorporation, charters and annual reports. The documents are scanned and digitized, and as state law defines them as public records, they can be viewed for free on a searchable state website.
“We are very transparent,” Marshall said. “My philosophy is as long as there is breath in my body, the public will have access to it for free.”